It started with an email when Elysian Brewing Company’s brewing ingredient specialist Markus Stinson co-opted the help of Newlands Spring brewer Warren Wiese to collaborate on a beer to showcase unique hops from both countries. Both breweries are owned by brewing giant AB InBev. 

Fresh hop style beer

The pair “arm wrestled” over the recipe, which eventually saw 13 varieties of hops and three varieties of malt used. In March this year, Stinson flew to South Africa to put the plan for the fresh hop style beer into action in a marathon day of picking and brewing. “We drove to George, the only place in South Africa where hops are grown, picked the hops and drove back with 50kg of Southern Passion and 20kg of African Queen,” said Wiese. 

The beer is a wet hop beer, made within six hours of the hops being picked. “They had an incredibly fresh smell and you could see the quality was great.” 

A fresh hop beer is made by adding a large amount of hops at the end of the brew house process, giving less bitterness and a bright fruity character for maximum flavour.”

The brew house process used only local hops (Southern Passion and African Queen), and when the wort was added to the ferment vessel, the American hops were put into play. US varieties used were the Pink Boots Blend (Loral, Mosaic, Simcoe, Sabro and Glacier), and the Veterans Blend (Cashmere, Centennial, Ekuanot, Mosaic, Simcoe), Amarillo and Eureka! The Pink Boots Society, which releases the annual hop blend of the same name, is an international non-profit organisation supporting women in the brewing profession, while the Veterans Blend supports US war veterans.

Once fermentation was completed, Veterans Blend and African Queen were added for the first dry hopping, the second dry hopping was Amarillo, Eureka and experimental SA variety U-108. 

What resulted is “a smooth and medium rounded, fruity IPA style fresh hop beer with a 6,5% alcohol”, Wiese said. “It has a very intriguing nose of ripe mango, passionfruit, some grassy notes, a little guava, some light lemon hints and red berries, and on the palate a medium-low sweetness, balanced with a firm bitterness and a light honey malt character.”
The beer will be available from 1 May 2019 at Newlands Spring and selected outlets in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs.